Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Tattoo And A Review, Featuring Paul D. Brazill

British author Paul D. Brazill has a fantastic new collection of noir short stories out called Snapshots, published by Pulp Metal Fiction.

Today, one of our favourite customers, Bill, came by Malefic Tattoos for more ink and got to read some of Paul's dark and twisted little tales of suspense. The first story in this collection, my personal favourite, is called "Seeing Blue".

Here's the opening line: "First, it all turns red. And then it goes black for a very long time. After that, everything is a searing white. Until I see Blue. Then everything hurts. Everything."

Bill read the opening line and immediately said, "I can relate. Yes, everything hurts." Well, we don't need to wonder why. It only got worse for Bill when Fabien accidentally reached for the alcohol bottle instead of the soap bottle to wipe his tattoo. Ouch! Sorry dude.

Bill says that Paul's a terrific writer with a lot of style and every story was great. I would most definitely agree with that statement. I'm a fan of Paul D. Brazill. He's got some serious grit. Ah, those British noir writers, they make me jealous they're so good. I swear they're invading North America like the 60s British rock invasion.

There is something about British noir though that I really enjoy. And Paul D. Brazill is one of their greats.

Coming next month, Paul's phenomenal Drunk On The Moon series, featuring a werewolf P.I. and a ton of contributing writers (myself included) published by Dark Valentine Press. It's a really fun series that combines werewolves and zombies with the classic noir/detective story. Who would have thought that could ever happen.

Bill still has some work to be done on his tattoo before it's complete. The nice folks up at his cottage aren't going to be please. They might have to start locking their doors at night now that the rumour about Bill's new awesomeness is out.

You know you just can't trust those tattooed people. We're liable to murder you in your sleep or eat your children if you turn your backs. Well, if you leave the little carpet demons running around unsupervised, then who can blame us. They're probably tasty in the odd cheese and onion pie or maybe with a little Pot Noodles and whiskey. Lots of whiskey that you take to bed like a teddy bear. Oh, but you'll have to read Snapshots if you want to know what the hell I'm talking about.

Check out Bill's review of Nigel Bird's short story collection. He's another one of those British noir types.

Do visit Paul D. Brazill at his popular blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?

You can buy Snapshots for a mere 99 cents on Amazon or if you're from across the puddle Amazon UK

Saturday, March 17, 2012

No One To Hear You Scream Has Gone Free...

The Irish bad boy Rory Madden from my thriller No One To Hear You Scream is on the loose for St. Paddy's Day. It's free on Amazon kindle until Sunday. Get it here. And if you're in the UK get it here

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Talking About Safe Harbor With Rosemary McCracken

Toronto author Rosemary McCracken dropped by to talk about her debut mystery, Safe Harbor. Shortlisted for The Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger in 2010, Safe Harbor has just been released as an ebook and will be available in paperback in April.

Your debut novel, Safe Harbor, just came out. Can you tell us what it’s about?

A frightened woman barges into financial advisor Pat Tierney’s office with the shocking request: “Look after my boy. He’s your late husband’s son.” The next day, the woman is murdered, and the police say the seven-year-old may be the killer’s next target. Pat rallies to protect the boy. Her search for his mother’s killer uncovers a deadly scheme involving money-laundering and illegal immigrants.

What was the road to getting published like for you?

I started writing fiction several years ago and I’ve had a few short stories published. In 2007, I entered Last Date, my first mystery featuring Pat Tierney and the predecessor to Safe Harbor, in Crime Writers of Canada’s inaugural Best Unpublished First Novel Competition. I was astonished – and overjoyed – when it was one of five entries that made the shortlist. The judges liked my book! That honor did not lead to publication. Despite my many attempts, Last Date never found a publisher or an agent, but being on that shortlist built my confidence.

I continued writing. I completed a second Pat Tierney mystery, Safe Harbor, which I reworked to stand as the first book in the series. In 2010, Safe Harbor was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger. Winning or shortlisting for this competition launched the careers of many established writers, including Louise Penny and Alan Bradley. The CWA makes shortlisted entries available to British publishers and agents, and several asked to see my full manuscript. But Safe Harbor is not a British mystery, and none were willing to commit to it in today’s uncertain publishing world. Much as I love the works of British crime writers, the world I know and write about is North America.

After returning from the awards ceremony in England, I shopped Safe Harbor around in Canada and the U.S. Again, publishers and agents were hesitant because they didn’t know how to categorize it and therefore how to market it. They couldn’t decide whether Safe Harbor was a mystery or women’s fiction – it has a murder mystery plot, and it also tells the story of Pat’s personal journey of coming to terms with her husband’s infidelity and getting on with her life. One agent liked the premise, but she didn’t like stories set in Canada.

Then Imajin Books entered the picture. Its savvy publisher Cheryl Tardif thought Safe Harbor was a good read and she was sure that it would sell books. An hour after I sent her my query email, she asked to see the manuscript. A week later, she sent me a contract. Cheryl is known to be at the forefront of the book marketing game.

Pat Tierney, your protagonist, is a financial advisor. What do you know about the world of financial advisors and investment management?

I’m a journalist, not a financial advisor or an investment manager. Years ago, when I started working at the Financial Post, I took the Canadian Securities Course, the course that many financial professionals sign up for as an entry-level credential. So I’ve had a little bit of their training.

I’ve also spent years interviewing financial services people and attending their conferences for the articles I write. I know the issues they face in their work, and their concerns. They work in a challenging business. Investment markets have been murder in recent years.

White-collar crime and investment fraud have been hot news topics in recent years. Do these crimes figure in the plot of Safe Harbor?

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot to those who haven’t yet read Safe Harbor. But the story involves several different types of crime, one of which is money-laundering. Subsequent Pat Tierney books will look at other forms of white-collar crime.

The financial industry deals with money, and therefore provides an opportunity for people who are clever and greedy enough to challenge the system. There are definitely some bad apples in circulation – and there always will be. There are also a lot of terrific financial professionals. They are committed, caring people who help their clients realize many of their dreams. They want to see tougher penalties for fraudsters, and maintain that the system in Canada is currently too soft on offenders.

These people sparked the character of Pat Tierney. Pat cares about her clients, and she has sleepless nights during down markets. She’s a champion of small investors and doesn’t want to see them get taken. Bad apples give the entire financial services industry a bad name. Good advisors want to see them weeded out and punished. They are understandably sensitive about recent scandals involving people like Bernie Madoff. When the ebook version of Safe Harbor was released on March 7, I spread the word to a number of financial professionals I know. I told them the book’s central character is a financial advisor. Concerned, one advisor asked whether this character was the hero or the villain. I assured him that Pat Tierney is an advisor with integrity.

As a journalist who has written non-fiction for many years, how did you make the transition to writing fiction?

For years, I wanted to write fiction instead of relating facts. I wanted to create my own stories. I just didn’t get around to it. Ironically, it was the Canadian Securities Course, which I mentioned above, that pushed me into writing fiction. The CSC is a self-study course, so for six months I spent just about every evening and weekend at my desk at home boning up on stocks, bonds and mutual funds. I’ve forgotten a lot of it, and much of what I learned is now out of date.

But the hours I spent at that desk taught me discipline, the ability to hunker down and get something done. I’m tapping this skill right now to market Safe Harbor. Even more important, that six-month grind caused me to cry out in frustration one day, “When I’m through with this, I’m going to knuckle down and do something I really like. I’m going to write fiction!” And I did. As soon as I’d finished the course, I signed up for a creative writing course at George Brown College in Toronto. That got my creative juices flowing, and I formed a writers’ group at the end of the course with some of my fellow students. We met once a month to critique our work, and that provided me with monthly deadlines.

I’m a believer in the bum-in-chair school of writing. It comes from years of working on daily newspapers where a reporter has to write an article, hand it in and move on to the next assignment – quickly. You only get that writing done by sitting in your chair and pounding on your keyboard. And the Canadian Securities Course reinforced lesson for larger-scale projects that take longer to complete. Such as writing a novel.

These days, I try to carve out time to sit at my laptop and pound out scenes and chapters of my current novel. I try not to listen to my inner editor while I’m doing this. I just keep tapping away at those keys.

Who are some of your favorite writers and what are you reading at the moment?

As I said earlier, I’m a fan of British crime writers. They are so damn talented. My favorite is the marvelous Kate Atkinson and Andrew Taylor.Right now, I’ve just started reading Hilary Davidson. I picked up this Canada-born writer’s first two books, The Damage Done and The Next One to Fall, at her Toronto book launch earlier this month. I’m half-way through The Damage Done and loving it.

When can we expect the sequel to Safe Harbor?

I’ve nearly completed the first draft. Then I’ll have to go back and do a rewrite. Then I’ll have my husband do an edit. Hopefully all that will be done by the end of the summer. The rest will be up to Cheryl Tardif – if she likes it.

So, if all goes well, the sequel could be out in about 18 months. Still have to come up with a title, though.

Find Safe Harbor on Amazon

And be sure to visit Rosemary's website

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Richard Godwin Talks About Mr. Glamour

Thriller writer Richard Godwin has dropped by to tell us about his latest novel, Mr. Glamour. Richard is the author of Apostle Rising and he has a fascinating blog called Chin Wag At The Slaughter House where he holds crime writers for questioning. But today, Richard is the one doing the talking...

Your new thriller “Mr. Glamour” has just been released. Can you tell us what it’s about?

Mr. Glamour is about a world of designer goods and beautiful, wealthy people. Their ideal lifestyle is shattered by a killer, a killer who seems to know everything about them and who is watching everyone, from the glamorous wives, to the two police officers carrying out the investigation into the bizarre killings. DCI Jackson Fare and his partner Inspector Steele try to get inside the killer's head only to find he got inside theirs first. They themselves are harbouring secrets, Flare has a dark side, and Steele herself is a woman who is privately pushing her sexual boundaries when she is not in police uniform. The killer's mind games drive them both to acts of darkness.

Meanwhile the police pathologist finds that the victims are being branded by the killer. I won't go into too much detail here, but suffice it to say there is an important explanation for this. The sub plot concerns a woman in a suburban lifestyle who is descending into a psychotic breakdown. Gertrude Miller enacts compulsive cleaning rituals and leads a double life.
Characters from the main plot stray into the sub plot, so the two stories dovetail neatly into one another.The ending is both a shock and a series of fireworks going off.

You have a good number of short stories published around the web, and in a couple of anthologies. Do you have a preference for writing short stories, novella length, or full length novels?

I have just got a story in Paul Brazill's anthology Brit Grit Too, and my Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man, about a killer who is extremely popular with the reading public, is out with Pulp Metal Fiction as an E Book. I must say I do not have a preference, but writing a story is a joy after some of the slog involved in editing a novel.

Your writing is deliciously dark and with a certain erotica flavour mixed in. It seems a unique combination. Are there any other writers or books out there that you feel your style compares with?

Thank you. I think that if you write a real character their sexuality will come into play. I am not sure who my style compares with. Other writers who mix these two elements are Richard Montanari and Thomas Harris.

What draws you to the noir side of writing?

I would like to say that while I am well known for writing Noir I also write poetry and started out writing satire. I write literary and horror. I think Noir fiction is a great vehicle for exploring the mechanisms of the human psyche, for penetrating deep into the motives people have. I am interested in exploring human motivation and how people refuse to acknowledge their motivation. I think despite our claims to rationality most men and women are driven by irrational urges they spend their lives wrestling with and failing to understand.

Favourite movies and favourite books, what are they?

It's hard to pick a few. If I had to name a couple I would say No Country For Old Men and Cape Fear as films, and as novels Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Dickens's Great Expectations, Greene's Brighton Rock, and Leonard's Up In Honey's Room.

What’s in the cards for the rest of the year for Richard Godwin?

Mr. Glamour has already had some great reviews. It is available for purchase now at,, The Book Depository, Foyles, and all good retailers. I have stories going into several anthologies and magazines and more novels waiting to go out as E Books later in the year. Apostle Rising, my debut, sold foreign rights in Hungary and will be released as an E Book this year. I am writing the sequel.

Be sure to stop by Richard's website

Check out Mr. Glamour, available now on and

And don't forget Apostle Rising, also available on and

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Tattoo And A Review With My Daughter Sam

Today my very own daughter Samantha came in for a tattoo. Actually, she was already here. She works with me at the shop full time. Which is great since she just moved out of the house and into her first apartment with her boyfriend.

Sam is working on her apprenticeship at Malefic Tattoos and going to art school part time. This spring we expect to get a tattoo machine in her hand.
She's been doing a lot of drawing in the meantime, creating some kick-ass flash designs and showing off her mad artistic skills. Mamma is proud.

While I'm working on her tattoo, Sam is distracting herself by reading my ebook short story Scarlet Sins, the prequel to my thriller, The Truth About Scarlet Rose. The story is about an unwed teenage mother in the 1960s who gets a job as a burlesque entertainer, but when she marries an older cheating, boozing, gambling man who makes promises he can’t keep, she's eventually driven to murder.

Sam says, "The story is good. And I'd say that even if you weren't my mother."

Ah, isn't she sweet? It was cool to be able to discuss parts of the story with her. When she laughed at the part where the character, Charlie, witnesses a three car accident on the street and lays down beside the wreckage faking injuries and later getting an insurance settlement, I was able to let her (and now you) in on some inside information; that was a true story. A con artist I knew many years ago did that very thing and got away with it.

Sam read her first book at six months old. Well, she didn't actually read it, she looked at the pictures. But I remember her being fascinated with books. I used to read her fairytales from my own story book from when I was a kid but when I'd get to the part about the handsome prince asking for the princess to marry him and live happily ever after, I'd change the ending. The princess would tell him that first she needed to go to college and establish her career and then she'd think about marrying him. I did make a point of finding her bedtime stories with strong female characters like Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess and Kate Duke's Aunt Isabel Tells A Good One If you're a parent of young children looking for a good story, I highly recommend those two.

When Sam was a little older, like nine or ten, I read Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass Trilogy to her at night. Another strong heroine in this story. I'm not sure if it was Sam or myself that liked it more, but it's an awesome series.

Today, Sam is a ferocious reader. I've told her she should have her own book blog. She's read the entire Harry Potter series twice. She had the fantastic idea that we should read The Help at the same time and then go see the movie together. It was an amazing book by the way. She recently read John Steinbeck's classic, East of Eden just because it was so long and she knew it would last a good while.

The pin-up picture on the right is the tattoo I did last year on Sam's leg. It was the first tattoo I did on her and it took a lot of convincing on her part. What finally made me give in was the thought that if my mother, who passed away when I was in my early twenties, had been a tattoo artist how much it would mean to me now to have her art on my skin. Still it wasn't easy to tattoo my own daughter. I tend to hold back a bit, worried about hurting her. Even today as I was working on a flower design on her chest (the other tattoo she has by me), I was really hesitant.

At one point she says to me, "Mom, are you even touching the needle to my skin, cause I don't feel a thing?"

"Probably not," I said, laughing. And I know it only makes it worse for her when I have to go over the same line again because I don't make it solid enough the first time. Anyone else I don't give a shit. Suck it up buttercup. But my baby? It's always the most difficult tattoo for me. Especially on the chest. Hurts like a son of a bitch.

The picture on the right is Sam at age four, posing in a flower girl dress that I made when I had a bridal shop many years ago. Today, she's eighteen, turning nineteen next month, and all grown up and getting tattooed. On her feet she's got two tattoos started; old school hearts with banners, one that says Mom and the other says Dad. Fabien is doing those because I said there's no way I can tattoo her feet. My foot hurt so bad I screamed in my husband's face. But then again, I'm a bit of a baby anyway. So no surprise there. I'm actually scheduled to get a matching one on my foot that says Sam. And I won't make it easy on my husband, unfortunately for him, who'll be doing the inking.

The funny thing is, women coming in to get tattooed say things like "If I can go through child birth then I can get a tattoo." Well that's probably true for them. For me, however, giving birth to Sam was a picnic compared to some of the tattooing I've had done. The hospital has the best drugs after all. Got those wonderful nurses to hook me up with some of their primo stock.

This is Sam at age three. She cut her bangs herself. I giggled and told her it was beautiful. At daycare the next day her stupid teacher told her she shouldn't cut her own bangs. I watched the confusion play out on her face and I could have slapped that teacher. It's so hard to give your babies up to the world. But I like to think I taught her how to deal with opposition. Today if you told her you didn't like her hair, she'd probably say "Fuck you, it's not yours to like." And she's had some unique hair styles since she's been four. It's been pink, purple, platinum, black, neon green dreads and now, a cute bob. So yeah, fuck you if you don't like the hair. She's even got her tongue split, but shhh, we won't talk about that.

I'm so happy that Sam is not afraid to be who she is, and not blindly follow the status quo with the rest of the sheep. Her hair styles over the years have only proved this.

This is my Mom and I at about the same age. I know this might sound cheesy, but I like to think my mother had a hand in sending Sam down from heaven to me. I was a demon child, a spawn of Satan when I became a teenager; breathed fire and sprouted horns too. My mother used to say she hoped I did not have a daughter like me when I grew up. So I think she must have sent me Sam somehow, because Sam is like the daughter my mother always wanted me to be. And my mother loved me that much.

If you want to read Scarlet Sins, and The Truth About Scarlet Rose, I can't promise you that you'll like the mother in this story, nor how she treats her children. In fact, I'm certain you won't. She's got some serious demons and she unleashes them all in a violent fury between these deliciously dark pages. But I will promise you that it's a great read.

Oh, and if you're in the area, stop by later this year and Sam can give you a tattoo.